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Army Nurse, The


Published 1945


Shows the daily life and work of the Army nurse, including training and off-duty activities.


Run time 16:07
Producer U.S. Army Pictorial Service
Sponsor U.S. Treasury Department, War Finance Division
Audio/Visual Sd, B&W

Shotlist

Shows the daily life and work of the army nurse, including training and off-duty activities.
Shows the daily life and work of the army nurse, including training and off-duty activities, often in a romanticized fashion. States the narrator: "In her there is the tenderness of all women, of mother and sister and friend. Her voice and touch lend encouragement, instill hope. It's the surgeon who saves a man's life; it's the nurse whose tender care helps him to live." While many of the scenes are staged, some shots appear to be candid. The film opens with a melodramatic near-death sequence of a wounded soldier who is semi-conscious. The narrator urges, "Hang on kid," while the picture becomes wavy. Finally, through his stupor, a smiling woman's face comes into focus. It's the Army nurse, whom the narrator characterizes as "a nurse first, a woman second, an officer third."


The film shows the daily life and work of the nurse including training and off-duty activities often in a romanticized fashion. While many of the scenes are staged, some shots appear to be candid. (Eileen Clancy observes:) Lesbian subtext. Army nurses play softball game against Army WACs. Nurses golfing and swimming together. Hidden history. Slogan suggested by narrator as appropriate: "A nurse first, a woman second, an officer third." "In her there is the tenderness of all women, of mother and sister and friend. Her voice and touch lend encouragement, instill hope. It's the surgeon who saves a man's life; it's the nurse whose tender care helps him to live." Film opens with melodramatic near-death sequence of wounded soldier who is semi-conscious. Narrator says stuff like "Hang on kid." The picture becomes wavy. Finally, through his stupor, a smiling woman's face comes into focus. It's the Army nurse. Shows women (nurses) in basic training on hikes, going through gassed areas and climbing fences. Mobile hospital or field hosptial being built.
Key scenes include: women (nurses) in basic training, on hikes, going through gassed areas and climbing fences; the erection of a mobile or field hospital; an excellent shot of feet going into beat-up army boots; nurses' life in camp, including eating rations, ironing, haircuts and shampooing (all outdoors); a sequence on the uses of a G.I. helmet, as personal washbasin, cooking pot, laundry, and dishpan; writing letters home; a remarkable shot of a man being assisted in smoking a cigarette by a nurse who has rigged up a tin can suspended over his sickbed; much gentle tending to the ill; trains transporting the wounded from the field hospitals to the larger, general hospitals, interiors of trains, showing soldiers in elaborate casts resting on bunkbed cots, reading The Stars and Stripes; evacuation by air ("flying hospitals"); nurses assisting surgeons as they don gowns gloves, laying out surgical instruments and typing up records; Gary Cooper smilingly participating in a show for the troops; good shots of army audience; Army nurses playing softball against Army WACs; nurses golfing and swimming together; excellent closeups of smiling nurses; and a pitch for purchasing war bonds. The film also shows a group of nurses receiving military decorations, including shots of a group of nurses who were Japanese POWs for three years. Says the narrator, "They asked only that they be returned to duty for they could never forget the faces of American men tortured and killed by the enemy."

Excellent shot of feet going into beat-up army boots. Shows nurses' camp life: eating rations, ironing, haircuts and shampooing all outdoors. Sequence on the uses of a G.I. helmet: being used as a personal washbasin, cooking pot, laundry, and dishpan. Writing letters home. Remarkable shot of a man being assisted in smoking a cigarette by a nurse who has rigged up a tin can which is suspended over his sickbed. Much gentle tending to the ill. Trains transport the wounded from the field hospitals to the larger, general hospitals. Interiors of trains show soldiers in elaborate casts resting on bunkbed cots, reading the STARS AND STRIPES. Evacuation by plane as well, "flying hospitals." Nurses assist in the donning of surgical gowns and gloves; lay out surgical instruments and type up records. Gary Cooper smilingly participates in a show for the troops. Good army audience shot. Nurses receiving military decorations. This includes shots of a group of nurses who were Japanese P.O.W.'s for three years. "They asked only that they be returned to duty for they could never forget the faces of American men tortured and killed by the enemy." Excellent close-ups of smiling nurses (real people, not actors). The head army nurse speaks unsmilingly, in a severe uniform, about army nurses and patients. She then makes a pitch for the purchase of war bonds.
nurses and nursing women gender world war II WWII
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Reviews

Reviewer: Christine Hennig - - July 13, 2003
Subject: The Army Nurse
This excellent film from WWII is a tribute to the army nurses who worked tirelessly at the front and at home to care for wounded soldiers. Their experiences are shown in a complete way, from basic training to shipping out to long hours on duty to taking up and putting down field hospitals to using their combat helmets for all kinds of household chores to recreational activities to writing home. We get a real appreciation for how hard they worked and how they really helped ease the suffering of the sick and wounded. This film is an excellent historical document of one aspect of the war that should not be forgotten.
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: *. Weirdness: **. Historical Interest: *****. Overall Rating: *****.
Reviewer: RadioBilly - - April 14, 2003
Subject: My Mother Wore Combat Boots
I found this film generally informative. Both my mother and my aunt were Army nurses during WWII. My mother graduated as an RN in 1942 and went immediately into the Army. She was stationed in England and France. She was under combat conditions. She spoke very little about her experiences because she was a stoic. But the pictures she took and that were taken of her during those times are reflective of many of the images portrayed in this film.

My aunt, who joined up in '42 also had been an RN for 7 years already. She was 30 when she joined. She was stationed mainly in of all places, Iceland. The pictures I have of her tour of duty there were all of ice and snow, no trees, and temporary housing in the form of quansett huts and some wooden buildings that served as an Army Hospital. She was more talkative about her experiences and when reflecting upon the wounded GI's often would refer to them as poor devils because of the grievous wounds, sufferings and loss of limbs they suffered, as well as emotionally spent.

The socialization shown briefly in this film also reflects many of the pictures that survive to this day of my mother and aunt's tours of service. I can not even begin to imagine how the GI's must have felt in both theatres of war, to be attended by girls from back home. That connection is made in this film depicting the nurses caring for the wounded. It must had been an incredible morale booster for many.

My mother left the Army after the war and along with my Navy veteran father had me and my sister. My aunt stayed in the Army and retired as a Lt. Colonel in the 1970's. Both ladies are no longer with us. I was always very proud to refer to my mother as having worn combat boots, though in the 1950's it was sort of a put down joke on women. I could think of no greater honor that she and the 50,000 other nurses, along with my aunt as well, wearing those shoes and who but them could have known what it was like to have been in them.

The Army nurse of World War Two was every bit a Patriot of all those who served our country and only those who were from those times could ever really know what it was like to be in their position. This film with its 16 minutes and 7 seconds gave only a brief snapshot but nonetheless did describe the service these women gave willingly to their country and to their fellow men. May these images and words never be forgotten, for their efforts spent then, still live on today in the form of freedom.
Reviewer: Spuzz - - December 29, 2002
Subject: War Porn
Hard to assimilate WHO this movie was made for. Originally, I thought it was made as a recruitment film for women to join the Army, and then I thought it was for soldiers who wanted to know about the Nurses who served them, and to get a look at some hot chicks. But with what looks to be actual nurses caring for the sick mixed in with cheesecake shots (Naked nurses swimming! Hubba hubba), and then at the end asking for people to buy victory bonds, it's all very baffling.
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